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Forestry Institute says seize Kyoto policy opportu

New Zealand Institute of Forestry (NZIF)
Te Pūtahi Ngāherehere o Aotearoa Inc.

April 28, 2006

Forestry Institute says seize Kyoto policy opportunity

The political vacuum in climate change drew fresh criticism at the recent NZ Institute of Forestry conference in Wellington.

“Delegates were in general agreement that unless we act very quickly we’re going to find ourselves in the ludicrous position of paying people overseas for carbon credits to meet our Kyoto Protocol costs, when we could have spent the money in New Zealand,” said Ket Bradshaw, President of the Institute, following discussions about Kyoto at the annual NZIF Conference last week.

“There’s a wide range of possibilities for making progress on meeting Kyoto emission targets. Some are in forestry and some are outside forestry. The Institute has already suggested a national carbon trading scheme. If we put the right incentives in place, we can improve our Kyoto status while at the same time generate spin-offs from spending the money here.”

One example from the conference highlighted by Ms Bradshaw was the possibility for large scale re-forestation of the hill country in the Manawatu. Reforestation there, if it was done fast enough, could contribute to Kyoto, assist regional development, reduce erosion, reduce the downstream impact of future flooding, and reduce the costs of clean up. “Soil from high country farms washes downstream and gets spread all over low country farms. Why? Nobody wins, not the farmers, not the insurance companies and not the public. How can you justify spending taxpayers’ money overseas rather than in the Manawatu?”

International pressure to reduce green house gas emissions will not go away. As the reality of climate change unfolds, it will only get worse. “New Zealand politicians need to stand up and lead on this issue, rather than the bickering and one-upmanship evident to date.” The Institute wants the political parties to put a process in place to develop consensus, to agree on support for rapid measures to address Kyoto Protocol issues, to deal with carbon emissions and to start acting like responsible global citizens.

“We also need to fix the current crazy system of incentives around land conversion,” Ms Bradshaw said. “Right now people are cutting down forests to create new farms. In that single step we lose carbon storage, and increased livestock and fertilisation add to emissions of methane and nitrous oxide which are the worst greenhouse gases. No-one really believes that the true costs are factored into regional plans or into land prices. No-one even believes that it’s sustainable. We will all end up paying for it, and what on earth are we going to say to our children and grandchildren when they ask how it happened?”

“Climate change is here and the Kyoto Protocol is here. We can either urgently invest in reducing carbon-emissions within New Zealand, or end up paying people overseas because we haven’t the spine. To me, it really is a no-brainer,” concluded Ms Bradshaw.


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